Hackensack library holds "Crowd Funding" seminar

posted May 24, 2013, 11:58 AM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 24, 2013, 12:01 PM ]

In an effort to bring more technology-based seminars to residents, the Johnson Free Public Library hosted a group of entrepreneurs and writers, who, with the help of "crowd funding" websites reached their project goals.

Crowd funding, which usually takes place on the Internet, is a collective effort where individuals pool their money to support endeavors initiated by others.

Though the seminar initially focused on the website Kickstarter — crowd funding, in general, and business advice ended up being the main topics of discussion.

Hackensack teacher Toney Jackson joined Tanya Gomelskaya, Louisa Luisi, and Robert Stone in explaining to those in attendance how crowd funding assisted them in their ventures.

Jackson, a teacher at Nellie K.Parker Elementary School, detailed how writing has always been something he gravitated towards. Though he decided to embark on a career in education, his passion for writing followed him.

"I used to print up my books…for free," he said amidst laughter. "I won't tell you where! But I used to print them and hand them out to students and other teachers. It was a fun little thing I did."

It wasn't until one day, when he went on a crowd funding website to "back" a product, that he decided it would be the perfect platform to earn money to publish a book.

"I said, 'Let me just try and put every creative thing I can into this effort,'" he said.

While he sought to raise $2,000 in order to fund his goal, backers exceeded this number.

Because of the success he's had through crowd funding, he is in the middle of publishing two books: "I'm Jack. I'm black" and "There's a button in my belly!" — the first being a story about accepting one's differences and the latter a collection of poems.

Two other children's book authors also spoke about their experiences: Gomelskaya and Luisi.

Gomelskaya was a dental assistant who went to art school. With aspirations of writing a children's book and hating her job, she decided to quit and dedicate herself to her dream. She relied on crowd funding to launch her book "Buttons Kings and Strange Little Things" with all illustrations done by herself. She met and exceeded her funding goal of $7,000. Her book will go to printing in roughly two weeks.

"I was a little skeptical at first," she admitted. "I did my research on crowd funding and other children's books [and] asked myself, 'Why not try it?...When you have an idea and you know where you want it to go, but do not have the money to launch it, [crowd funding] is a great way to do it."

Luisi, who authored "Your Best Coaches," mentioned that, just like any other business venture, one must now how to market their product or idea in an online platform in order to get the funding needed.

Hackensack's Johnson Public Library held a seminar focusing on 'crowd funding' — the collective effort where individuals pool their money to support endeavors by others. The seminar included a panel of authors and entrepreneurs who used crowd funding websites to reach their goals.

Hackensack's Johnson Public Library held a seminar focusing on 'crowd funding' — the collective effort where individuals pool their money to support endeavors by others. The seminar included a panel of authors and entrepreneurs who used crowd funding websites to reach their goals.

Gabriel Aronovich — a frequent backer who supported Gomelskaya's efforts — was also present at the event. He gave insight as to what backers look for and how to be enticing to an audience. A "backer" is someone who donates money via a website to help fund an idea.

"The amount of funds you are looking for has to be reasonable," he said. "If a potential backer goes to your [idea's webpage] and sees a huge number there, they won't back you up."

Aronovich explained that a large figure could drive possible contributors away because they will think you won't be able to reach that amount in a set number of days or that others will contribute more money.

Robert Stone, an entrepreneur who, along with a group of friends, developed a camera stabilizer and sought an initial backing of $27,000 but exceeded $31,000, further elaborated.

"[Backers] want to be part of a winning team," he said. "If they feel that the number is too high too reach, they will not fund your project."

All participants in the panel also stressed that one must be aware of a crowd funding website's guidelines and the fact that on many sites, if the amount being sought is not reached by a specified time, one will not receive any funds. They also said that most websites charge a certain percentage of the fund when it is met. Because of these two points, one must always take them into consideration when coming up with a target figure to fund your project.

Aronovich also stressed the importance of having a definite idea for a project. He also said that one must be aware what projects are and are not supported by certain crowd funding websites. For example, charities are not allowed on some sites, while they are on others.

Though crowd funding is an up-and-coming option to finance one's idea, the entire panel stressed the importance "traditional" business legalities — copyrighting, patenting, securing a bar code and ISBN for one's products, books, and ideas.

"What you are striving for is a business," Luisi said. "I would suggest cover all your bases."

The event, which ran overtime due to the panel answering audience questions, proved a success according to technology and reference librarian Radwa Ali.

"[The library] is trying to provide at least one technological seminar a month," she said. "We came upon this cool [crowd funding] idea. We hope this inspires other people. Many people have all these ideas but they think they can't do it, that it is unattainable…..we want to show the people in town that they can always aspire for more."

Audience member Stacey Gordon enjoyed the seminar and felt inspired.

"Events like these helps people that have passions but aren't sure how to make them a reality," she said. "It's great because like-minded people can gather and become each others support system."

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As Federal Budgets Tighten, Smithsonian Launches Crowd Funding Campaign

posted May 24, 2013, 11:50 AM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 24, 2013, 12:03 PM ]

Joel Grey signs the donation form at the Smithsonian National Museum Of American History on February 22, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Joel Grey signs the donation form at the Smithsonian National Museum Of American History on February 22, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Smithsonian Institution has announced its first major crowd funding campaign. Starting May 29, the organization will be accepting donations toward "Yoga: the Art of Transformation," an upcoming exhibition about the visual history of yoga, to be put on in the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler galleries of Asian art in Washington, D.C.

Though the fundraising effort comes just months after drastic sequestration budget cuts took effect, the Smithsonian says that there's no causal link between the two.

"It's not from sequestration," says Allison Peck, a spokesperson at the Freer and Sackler galleries. "Sequestration money doesn't affect our exhibition schedule as of right now."

However, one official familiar with Smithsonian fundraising does say that longer-term federal budget tightening has definitely caused the museum to be more dependent on grants and donations. The Smithsonian has been aggressive in fundraising in recent years and bounced back strongly from the recession, when donation levels fell, to having its two biggest fundraising years in the organization's history in 2011 and 2012, with donations hitting around $11 million last year.

Though this is not the Smithsonian's first attempt at crowd funding, it is the largest attempt the organization has ever made. The Smithsonian also tried crowd funding for a 2012 Ai Weiwei art exhibition.

Crowd funding has gained prominence through websites like Kickstarter, where people seek out funding for all manner of projects, from helping their bands record new albums to starting small businesses. It's an all-or-nothing proposition: Those seeking out donations set a fundraising goal but do not get to keep donations unless the goal is reached.

The Smithsonian's crowd funding project deviates from the Kickstarter approach in this respect, as the exhibit will happen even if the $125,000 goal is not realized. Peck says the galleries will prioritize getting the exhibition up and running, but that a shortfall of funds could mean cuts in other areas surrounding the yoga exhibit, such as the number of programs printed or the number of related events, like concerts, that will be held.

While crowd funding may be new to the Smithsonian, the museum and research organization has always depended to some extent upon private donations. Generally, federal funding goes toward operations -- keeping the lights on and the buildings open -- while donations and grants tend to fund individual exhibits.

The Smithsonian has just over a month to get the $125,000 to fund this particular exhibit. The crowd funding campaign kicks off May 29 and runs through July 1. If successful, it's possible that the campaign could prove worth repeating, Peck says. And just as big names like fictional private investigator Veronica Mars and musician Amanda Palmer have drawn big bucks on Kickstarter, Peck thinks big museums could be next.

"I definitely think that crowd funding could be the wave of the future," she says. "It's been small organizations for now, but I don't see why big organizations wouldn't be able to do it."

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Tesla lab saved, but more work to go

posted May 11, 2013, 11:32 AM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 11, 2013, 11:34 AM ]

Millions of dollars more will be needed to clean up Tesla's former lab and turn it into a science-education museum

Through some highly successful crowdfunding and skillful negotiation, the last remaining laboratory of futurist inventor Nikola Tesla is now in the hands of a nonprofit group that wants to preserve the site and make it a museum honoring "the father of the electric age."

The Tesla Science Center announced that it's completed the purchase of the building and land of Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York, after trying for more than 18 years. The original asking price was $1.6 million, but the deal closed for $850,000.

Last year, the nonprofit made a plea on the Internet for donors. Tesla fan Matthew Inman, creator of the Web cartoon "The Oatmeal," started an IndieGoGo crowdfunding effort irreverently titled "Let's Build A Goddamn Tesla Museum."

Fans of Tesla's responded, raising more than $1 million in about a week before wrapping up with $1.37 million.

The Wardenclyffe Tower was to be where Tesla realized his dream of developing wireless communications and clean, free energy for the world. It was never completed, and the building was later used by a photo processing company, leaving the area tainted with chemicals.

"Now begin the next important steps in raising the money needed to restore the historic laboratory," Mary Daum, treasurer of the Tesla Science Center, said in a statement. "We estimate that we will need to raise about $10 million to create a science learning center and museum worthy of Tesla and his legacy. We invite everyone who believes in science education and in recognizing Tesla for his many contributions to society to join in helping to make this dream a reality."The money left over after the purchase will be used to clean up and renovate the property. The ultimate goal, an interactive science museum honoring Tesla, will require much more cash.

On his website, Inman thanked donors and said an event is planned this summer in Shoreham to help finance the science center. Musical performances, lectures, interactive exhibits and tours -- with Inman as one of the guides -- are planned during the two-day event.

Inman also plans a special Tesla demonstration during the event.

"I own a fully functional Tesla coil cannon and I plan to BBQ some Sriracha-bacon sandwiches by shooting them with its 20,000 volt electric arc, so the event will be both scientific and delicious," Inman wrote on his site. "Again, we're shooting for this summer but we haven't pinned down a date yet."

The Tesla Science Center is also calling on volunteers to come out Saturday to assist in the cleanup along the perimeter of the site. Interested people can sign up using, which is helping organize the event.

Largely forgotten for decades in the shadows of inventors like Thomas Edison, Tesla has emerged in recent years as a sort of unsung hero among the science-minded. Tesla foresaw the need for wireless transmissions in the late 1800s -- a hundred years before anyone picked up a cell phone.

But Tesla's work lost much of its financial backing after inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean, and the lab site was lost in 1915.

Now, the nonprofit group hopes to soon be welcoming visitors who can understand and appreciate all the accomplishments and ideas envisioned by the inventor.

"This is a major milestone in our almost two-decade effort to save this historically and scientifically significant site. We have been pursuing this dream with confidence that we would eventually succeed," said Gene Genova, vice president of the Tesla Science Center. "We are very excited to be able to finally set foot on the grounds where Tesla walked and worked."

Born in what is now Croatia, Nikola Tesla is called the \
Born in what is now Croatia, Nikola Tesla is called the "father of the electrical age" for his work and idea

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North Carolina bill would allow investment crowdfunding

posted May 11, 2013, 11:26 AM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 11, 2013, 11:27 AM ]

North Carolina legislators are moving forward with a bill to allow small investments via crowdfunding, a measure they say would help local start-ups that are waiting on action from Washington.

The federal “JOBS” act laid out a path for crowd-funded investments nationwide, but the necessary regulations haven't been written.

The state bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Murry (R-Cary) and three House, would ease regulations for securities offerings of less than $2 million and allow individuals to invest up to $2,000. The total cap would be $1 million for companies without audited financial statements.

“Businesses need access to capital,” Murry said. “That’s what this bill is about.”

Murry said he foresees the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finalizing the necessary rules for national crowdfunding some time between 2014 and 2016. If Murry’s bill becomes law, it would expire in 2017, with the expectation that the federal system would be able to take over.

“The goal is to give North Carolina a jump-start,” Murry said.

"I think there is some frustration among some people that the SEC hasn't written these rules," said David Smyth, a former SEC supervisor who practices at Brooks Pierce in Raleigh and is one of several securities attorneys advising legislators on the bill. "The SEC is still stacked up with Dodd-Frank rule-making."

The state law would be limited in scope because SEC restrictions still limit securities offerings that cross state lines. Companies raising money through crowdfunding would have to register with the North Carolina secretary of state and would be able to sell shares only to state residents. The process would entail a small fee, currently envisioned as $150. 

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Commerce and Job Development approved the bill in an “overwhelming” voice vote on Wednesday, said Murry, the committee’s chairman. It still has to be approved by the chamber’s Finance Committee, by the full chamber, and by the Senate, and ultimately signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Murry said he’d like his own chamber to approve it by the end of the May, and that he’s confident about its chances with the Senate and governor.

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From Crowd Funding Planning:

Investing In Real Estate Through Crowdfunding

posted May 10, 2013, 1:45 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 10, 2013, 1:46 PM ]

Crowdfunding is one of the new buzz words to hit the financial services industry and it is now being applied to real estate. Through crowdfunding, investors can pool money together and buy shares of real property like apartment buildings, office buildings and retail centers. Rather than buying the entire property and dealing with the hassles of tenants, toilets and trash, individuals investing through crowdfunding do not deal with any of the day-to-day management of the property.

How is it different than a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)?

When investing in a REIT, most investors have little to no information regarding actual properties the REIT invests in and cannot invest in their own backyard. Through crowdfunding, investors can invest in individual properties, allowing for added transparency and control over investment selection and location. 

In addition, REITs are such large entities that they can rarely participate in many of the smaller investments crowdfunding opportunities will offer, such as niche retail centers or multi-family buildings with 10, 20 or 40 units.

When you invest in real estate through crowdfunding what do you actually own?

Most often, you will own shares in a Limited Liability Company (LLC). It’s typical for individual properties to be held in sole and separate LLCs and most crowdfunding companies are taking this same approach. Investor monies are pooled into a single purpose LLC and that LLC invests into the property. This provides protections for investors, including a limit of liability, and streamlines the reporting and distribution processes.

When can investors expect distributions?

Timing for distributions will depend entirely on what type of property is being invested in. Some crowdfunding websites are focused on ground up development where distributions should not be expected for 18-24+ months. Other real estate crowdfunding companies, are more forced on cash flow and anticipate providing distributions as early as monthly on some transactions.

One of the great benefits of crowdfunding for real estate is added diversification and insider access to private transactions that were historically limited to the extent of one’s personal network. With the advent of the internet, investors will now have the ability to easily invest across geographies, across property types and across operating partners. While crowdfunding may not be easily applied to every industry, real estate seems to be one industry where it is poised to grow rapidly.

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3 Reasons to Crowdfund Your Next Project (Hint: It's Not About the Money)

posted May 8, 2013, 6:30 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 8, 2013, 6:38 PM ]

Considering a crowdfunding site to raise money? You might get one of these things instead.

You know crowdfunding, that new type of fundraising in which you can ask a large community of people to donate small sums of money to launch your new project or business idea? Turns out, it's not only about the money.

"Think of crowdfunding as an ecosystem," suggested Jeremy Andrews, founder and CEO of Smart Money Entrepreneurs, a crowdfunding site.

At a panel for aspiring entrepreneurs today at Baruch College, Andrews told an audience of 30 students, the crowdfunding ecosystem can help you meet the right people, and test out market interest in your idea.

Andrews was joined on the panel by two other crowdfunding site founders--Alejandro Cremades, CEO of Rock the Post, and Sang Lee, CEO of Return on Change--who, of course, also recommend you crowdfund (and not just for the money).

Here's why:

1. Crowdfunding democratizes the financing process.

Venture capitalists are not the only ones who know a good idea when they see it. Why should they be the only ones to judge the fate of your idea, anyway? With crowdfunding, consumers can validate your idea.

"Sometimes [traditional] investors, with all due respect, they act like dinosaurs and they don't even know what you are doing and probably they don't even really care," said Cremades.

Lee agreed.

"Now, the actual users are telling the public what companies they want to exist," he said.

2. It eliminates some of the emotional trauma of closing your first round of financing.

Trying to raise money on a crowdfunding site is no sure bet, nor is it free of its own hassles and complications.

But it may give you more time to focus on building your product or service, than a formal VC roadshow would.

"Crowdfunding helps [entrepreneurs] avoid the distractions of having to do the roadshow of closing the first round of financing, which normally takes on average eight months," said Cremades. "Being able to do so from home or the office in 90 days, it really helps to concentrate on what is important, which is building the team, executing well on the vision, and to continue to move on."

3. You get feedback that will help you improve your idea. 

Start-up founders who crowdfund are often able to pivot their products using input they get from the market.

Cremades recommends you intentionally launch a project that's incomplete.

"All that time that you spend building that perfect product is the time that you are not going to have that product in the market and that you are not going to have customer feedback," he said.

If you launch before you've totally polished your idea, you might find potential investors do not give you money, "but they will tell you why--and that's what makes a difference," he said.

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The Donald is willing to fund anything (literally)

posted May 8, 2013, 6:06 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 8, 2013, 6:13 PM ]

FORTUNE -- Donald Trump is putting his stamp of approval, but not his name, on a new crowd funding platform that is scheduled to launch tomorrow. He's also an investor in the site, and each week will personally contribute to one or more projects that strike his fancy.

It's called FundAnything, and was the brainchild of The Learning Annex founder Bill Zanker.

"People in tech and some Brooklyn hipsters know about crowdfunding, but it hasn't been brought to the masses yet," Zanker explains. "This is a very big idea -- like eBay or online dating -- and we're just in the beginning stages."

In many ways, FundAnything resembles existing crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It offers users a way to raise money from other users, and takes a matchmaking commission (5% for fully-funded projects, 9% for projects that don't meet their goal). What's different, however, is that FundAnything neither screens projects nor has any real exclusions. For example, FundAnything projects could include tech inventions, new uniforms for a school sports team, helping out someone with a medical emergency, etc.

The other difference is Trump's involvement. Not only will he personally back new projects each week -- tomorrow he'll unveil the recipients of his first personal investments --  but he'll also promote those choices via his Twitter feed (which currently has 2.2 million followers).

Zanker understands that Trump is a polarizing political figure, but does not believe such sentiments extend to the business world.

"Everyone knows Donald is a genius businessman,"  Zanker says. "We're not talking about politics here. If you want to fund anything, there is no better person in the world to have supporting you than Donald Trump."

As for FundAnything's business model, expect the commissions to be just the start. Zanker says the site is planning live events -- such as how to raise money for real estate ventures -- and that it already has people on the ground to expand into non-U.S. markets. When asked if the site would expand to equity-basedcrowdfunding once the SEC sets such rules, Zanker was noncommittal. 

Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites For Fundraising

posted May 8, 2013, 3:13 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 8, 2013, 3:14 PM ]

Unless you’ve been living in a remote island for the last few years, you’ve heard about crowd funding or stories of people raising thousands or millions of dollars online.

In fact, there’s been so much chatter out there about crowdfunding that people love to throw out the line “yeah, I’ve heard there are something like 500 crowdfunding sites.” While hundreds of sites may be popping up, not all of them have real communities and funding successes under their belt.

Which begs the question… what crowd funding site is best for you?

As a crowdfunding industry insider, I thought I’d give you an easy guide for which site to go to for your crowdfunding needs.

I’ll start with a tiny overview of the industry, a short primer on the different types of crowdfunding so you know what you’re looking for, and then I’ll get to specific recommendations for you.

The Crowd funding Industry

Collaboration on the web is an area of exponential growth. Crowdfunding, or collaborative funding via the web, is one of the standouts for growth in this evolving collaborative economy.

The Crowdfunding Industry Report by Massolution put out data showing the overall crowdfunding industry has raised $2.7 billion in 2012, across more than 1 million individual campaigns globally. In 2013 the industry is projected to grow to $5.1 billion.

Some of the most interesting developments in crowdfunding, which are expected to grow in the months and years ahead, include: investment crowdfunding (becoming a shareholder in a company), localization (funding focused on participants in specific cities and neighborhoods), mobile solutions, and group-based approaches.

The JOBS Act that was passed in April of 2012 paved the way to investment crowdfunding, but the JOBS Act Rulings by the SEC have yet to be fully implemented to formally kick the market off. Expect big movement and activity in this area in 2013 and 2014.

Crowdfunding Models

There are 2 main models or types of crowdfunding. The first is what’s called donation-based funding. The birth of crowdfunding has come through this model, where funders donate via a collaborative goal based process in return for products, perks or rewards.

The second and more recent model is investment crowdfunding, where businesses seeking capital sell ownership stakes online in the form of equity or debt. In this model, individuals who fund become owners or shareholders and have a potential for financial return, unlike in the donation model.

Crowdfunding Sites To Choose From

Business owners are using different crowdfunding sites than musicians. Musicians are using different sites from causes and charities. Below is a list of crowdfunding sites that have different models and focuses. This list can help you find the right place for your crowdfunding goals and needs.

1. Kickstarter
Kickstarter is a site where creative projects raise donation-based funding. These projects can range from new creative products, like an art installation, to a cool watch, to pre-selling a music album. It’s not for businesses, causes, charities, or personal financing needs. Kickstarter is one of the earlier platforms, and has experienced strong growth and many break-out large campaigns in the last few years.

2. Indiegogo
While Kickstarter maintains a tighter focus and curates the creative projects approved on its site, Indiegogo approves donation-based fundraising campaigns for most anything — music, hobbyists, personal finance needs, charities and whatever else you could think of (except investment). They have had international growth because of their flexibility, broad approach and their early start in the industry.

3. Crowd funder
Crowd funder is the crowdfunding platform for businesses, with a growing social network of investors, tech startups, small businesses, and social enterprises (financially sustainable/profitable businesses with social impact goals).

Crowdfunder offers a blend of donation-based and investment crowdfunding from individuals and angel investors, and was a leading participant in the JOBS Act legislation. The company has localized crowdfunding and investment to help develop entrepreneurial ecosystems and access to capital outside Silicon Valley. Its unique CROWDFUNDx initiative in cities across the US and Mexico connects local investors with local entrepreneurs both online and offline, and does the work to validate top local companies in each city across the US and Mexico.

4. RocketHub
Rockethub powers donation-based funding for a wide variety of creative projects.

What’s unique about RocketHub is their FuelPad and LaunchPad programs that help campaign owners and potential promotion and marketing partners connect and collaborate for the success of a campaign.

5. Crowdrise
Crowdrise is a place for donation-based funding for Causes and Charity. They’ve attracted a community of do-gooders and and fund all kinds of inspiring causes and needs.

A unique Points System on Crowdrise helps track and reveal how much charitable impact members and organizations are making.

6. Somolend
Somolend is a site for lending for small businesses in the US, providing debt-based investment funding to qualified businesses with existing operations and revenue. Somolend has partnered with banks to provide loans, as well as helping small business owners bring their friends and family into the effort.

With their Midwest roots, a strong founder who was a leading participant in the JOBS Act legislation, and their focus and lead in the local small business market, Somolend has begun expanding into multiple cities and markets in the US.

7. appbackr
If you want to build the next new mobile app and are seeking donation-based funding to get things off the ground or growing, then check out appbackr and their niche community for mobile app development.

8. AngelList
If you’re a tech startup with a shiny lead investor already signed on, or looking for for Silicon Valley momentum, then there are angels and institutions finding investments through AngelList. For a long while AngelList didn’t say that they did crowdfunding, which makes sense as they have catered to the investment establishment in tech startups, but now they’re getting into the game. The accredited investors and institutions on AngelList have been funding a growing number of select tech startup deals.

You might want to create your own crowdfunding community to support donation-based fundraising for a specific group or niche in the is a Venice, CA based company that is a top name “white label” software provider, giving you the tools to get started and grow your own.

10. Quirky
If you’re an inventor, maker, or tinkerer of some kind then Quirky is a place to collaborate and crowdfund for donation-based funding with a community of other like-minded folks. Their site digs deeper into helping the process of bringing an invention or product to life, allowing community participation in the process.

These 10 crowdfunding sites cover most campaign types or funding goals you might have. Whether you’re looking to fundraise or not, go check out the sites here that grab your attention and get involved in this collaborative community.

How Crowd funding Is Shaping A New Economy

Crowd funding has revitalized the Arts at a time when public programs that support it are steadily dying off.

Crowd funding is growing a market for impact investing in social enterprises, marrying the worlds of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and helping a broader base of investors to back companies for both profits and purpose.

Crowd funding is accelerating angel investing and creating an entirely new market for investment crowdfunding for businesses.

So get involved and join a crowdfunding community today. You’ll make a difference for a project or business owner, and also help build a new and more collaborative economy.

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From Crowd Funding Planning

Crowd funding Startup CircleUp Raises $7.5M

posted May 7, 2013, 6:02 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 7, 2013, 6:09 PM ]

In a cash-flush display of the growing popularity of crowd funding, CircleUp, which gives investors a platform to invest in small-ish businesses, announced this morning that it has raised $7.5 million in its latest round of fundraising.

The amount raised is the largest-ever by an equity-based crowdfunding company, and it came with some big-ticket names. Union Square Ventures, whose portfolio includes Twitter, Kickstarter, Lending Club, CodeAcademy and Etsy, led the round. Other investments came from Google Ventures and San Francisco-based Maveron.

Crowdfunding is a model of fundraising that brings a group of people come together — usually online — to donate to a cause or directly fund businesses, individuals and organizations. Traditionally, crowdfunding has consisted of nonprofits and individuals relying on everyday people to donate a few bucks to a cause. One of the earliest and most popular crowdfunding sites is Kickstarter, which helps people raise money for creative projects. But CircleUp takes a different approach — it helps retail and consumer companies raise money from investors to jump-start their businesses. CircleUp finds the investors and matches them with promising companies, such as a line of baby food or dried fruit manufacturer.

CircleUp’s gangbuster fundraising round is not only good for the San Francisco startup, but it’s even better news for the many small businesses owners looking for a line of funding to grow their companies. With big-name investors like Google getting into the scene, crowdfunding gets more visibility and credibility as a legitimate way to do business in Silicon Valley. Crowdfunding is not just for struggling musicians trying to go on tour or a small NGO raising money for girls in Africa, but it’s a viable alternative to the old venture capitalism model.

“The idea that crowdfunding only for artists and projects is quickly eroding, ” said Rory Eakin, chief operating officer for CircleUp. “It’s becoming very mainstream.”

Investors are quick to throw their money behind tech startups, but consumer companies have a tougher time raising capital, Eakin said. An app that promises to be the next Instagram is a lot sexier than a granola company, but that doesn’t mean the granola will be any less profitable. On average, businesses that use CircleUp raise $1 million in about two months. Offline, that sort of fundraising could take up to a year or more.

“We think we are solving a very inefficient market,” Eakin said.

Since CircleUp launched last year, it has raised more than $10 million for about a dozen companies, including organic granola bar company 18 Rabbits and NurturMe, an organic baby food line created by two moms, which each raised about a half million dollars. These companies are often too small for banks or private equity companies to fund, Eakin said, and taking a loan or racking up credit card debt isn’t the best way to grow a business.

But with crowdfunding, these small business owners have gotten the attention they need.

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From Crowd Funding Planning

How to Successfully Relaunch Your Failed Kickstarter Campaign

posted May 1, 2013, 9:33 PM by Sallar Khorram   [ updated May 1, 2013, 9:41 PM ]

Regroup, Reassess and Relaunch

CrowdFunding honest assessment

  1. Did you nail your CrowdFunding campaign presentations ?

  2. Did you nail your CrowdFunding project presentations ? (The project refers to activity before Crowd Funding campaign launch)

    1. Website promoting your idea and campaign

    2. Social media pages  promoting your idea and campaign

    3. Blog  promoting your idea and campaign

    4. Press releases or Citation promoting your idea and campaign

  3. Did you put enough work into working and building your crowd (backers and investors )

    1. Nobody Knows Who You Are

    2. Your social media followers / fan / network size

    3. Your E-mail list size

    4. Your subscription base ( RSS, readers ...etc. )

  4. Did You ask for enough. ( Minimum and maximum  investment size ) ?

  5. Did you have a clear Fundraising goal ( Greedy or Clueless or certain ) ?

  6. Did you have clear, interesting and valuable perks and awards  ? ( Something you pay for it yourself )

  7. Did you Give Up Too Early middle of the campaign

  8. Did You put all your eggs in one  basket.

  9. Do you have a solid business plan in case you are fully funded and need to start developing , building and delivering.

  10. How can we help ?

    1. Campaign re launch strategy and  consultation

    2. Campaign analysis and recommendation

    3. Campaign social media score

    4. Campaign  cloud and crowd  building

    5. Campaign pre launch  strategic consultation

    6. Campaign soft launch ( testing your CF  campaign before its  launch in CF portal )

    7. Campaign content development and technical work

    8. Campaign  daily crowd  and backers management tactical work  

    9. CrowdFunding Model or business plan

This is a guest post by Rudi Beijnen. He has successfully relaunched his Kickstarter campaign with incredible success, raising over $60,000! Check it out here.

paul and rudy embrace

My name is Rudi and together with my friend Paul, we developed a new product called the EMBRACE+. It notifies the wearer through visual and tactile cues of incoming calls, messages, and reminders on their phone.

On February 22, 2013 we launched our first campaign, without any experience whatsoever with crowd funding and Kickstarter in particular. We put a lot of work in the prototyping but also the Kickstarter content such as a video, product photos, graphical design/illustration, and the story text.

If you have invested so much time it is a real dissapointment when you campaign fails. This happened to us. But don’t give up yet! Because Kickstarter let’s you relaunch your campaign so take the time and re-focus, re-design, and re-launch your campaign.

What did we do wrong?

1. We set a funding goal that was perceived by backers as ‘too high’. The funding goal you set is very important! If you set it too high people will think you want to make a quick buck or that your campaign will never achieve the goal. Backers want to be part of a successful campaign, not a failing one! Better you set the goal very conservative and try to go beyond it by using stretch goals and PR.

2. The video was more about us than the product. We edited all footage to 1.30min of video and most of the time the viewers saw us talking about details in difficult sentences. We were looking a bit tensioned and all this took the attention away from what it is all about: showing how a backer can benefit from your idea/product.

Therefore you should focus your video on the product, and if you have little experience in front of a camera then keep it very short and use a narration in the background while demonstrating the functionality and benefits of your product. In general: depict a phenomena/problem and present the solution/your product. Keep it simple!!! We are not all Einsteins!

3. The story you write on the Kickstarter page is also very important. Don’t use too much text, and keep it simple! The best way to go is to use a lot of graphical banners and illustrations to explains the functionality, characterictics, and benefits of your product.

4. After several days into the campaign we started to get worried we wouldn’t achieve the funding goal. Although we did pretty good the first few days, the funding goal we set was just too high. A marketing company approached us through the Kickstarter messages inbox and told us how good they are and how many other projects they helped to succeed with their social marketing campaigns. We decided to use them and looking back at this now, with the numbers analayzed, it didn’t help too much.

Nevertheless they ask a fixed fee and a percentage of the funding. Don’t do it! Looking at the statistics that Kickstarter provides we could see that the vast majority of backers came from Kickstarter itself. The marketing company did get us on many popular blogs with nice articles but it won’t attract a lot of traffic that makes a pledge. Kickstarter itself is THE source for your backers, so use a facebook and twitter account, link it to your Kickstarter page, and update it every day with a post. That should be enough…

Now the relaunch…

1. We improved all above 4 mistakes: setting a much much lower funding goal, make a new video with the focus on product demonstration and narration in background, hired a designer who improved the logo and made a lot of nice banners and illustrations for the story, and do our own marketing which only costs half an hour per day!

2. Very important: you have access to your the page of your failed campaign even after the funding has closed. You can post comments and updates which allow you to add photos, videos, and files. However, the story page cannot be edited anymore so if you know your campaign will fail then before it closes add a link (register a domain for 2 bucks or so) and use a 301 redirect to link to the relaunch page once it’s online. Anyway, STAY CLOSE WITH YOUR BACKERS! So that once you have relaunched your campaign they are willing to back you again.

3. We posted an update on the old page with a video in which we asked all backers to back our relaunch when it goes online within the first couple of days. This way we were able to achieve the 50% funding mark within two days. Result: we are shown in the popular category which rotates on the main page! This gives you an enormous amount of extra visibility.

Last comment: most people say you should keep the funding period short (not more than 30 days) to create a sense of urgency, but i don’t agree… The more time you have the more chance to get funded because each day you will receive new backers and they don’t care whether you set the goal to 30 days or 45 days.

This post is based on our first campaign which failed, and our relaunch which is currently funding:

[old] EMBRACE+, smart notification bracelet for iPhone and Android –
[new] EMBRACE+, a smart piece of wearable technology –

Compare them to understand my tips better, and you’ll do great with yours!

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